Category Archives: Guitars

Circuits and Strings Guitar Multi-Tool

It’s no secret that I love multi-tools.  I have them on my wrist, on my belt buckle, and a few in my pocket.

I have now designed my own guitar shaped multi-tool that includes 3 wrenches sized for luthier jobs like adjusting tuning machine bushings, output jacks, and potentiometer nuts.

Head over to the FOR SALE tab to find out how to get one.

(I also just added Circuits and Strings guitar/ukulele straps to that page)

Shane Speal (cigar box guitar player/builder/guru) checking out my tool.


Backpacker Guitar

Here are some helps and hints to make your own Backpacker Guitar.  This project takes some knowledge and skill, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first instrument building project.

Parts and supplies:

  • 6 tuners
  • Compass inlay
  • 2 inches of bass fretwire (for the zero nut)
  • Enough guitar fretwire for 15 frets
  • 2 strap buttons
  • Angled aluminum and aluminum tube for the bridge
  • Material for the string turnaround
  • Metal rivets (to make string ferrules for the ball ends)
  • A set of “extra light” acoustic guitar strings
  • Solid hardwood at least 24 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.
  • Wood at least 9.5 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 1/8 inch thick (for the back)

The rectangular body section is 9.75 by 3.5 inches.  After the 9.75 inches, it curves in towards the neck.

Making the turnaround is very important.  I modified the turnaround so that each of the strings turn independently on its own roller.  That is not shown in the video.  The string spacing (from string 1 to string 6) at the bridge and turnaround is 52 mm.  The string spacing at the zero fret is 36 mm.

I recommend that you print out the fret template, and combine it with the dimensions of the body.  The tines of the of the body are around .5 inch wide.



Download and print the fretboard below:



Fretboard necklaces and keychains 

I’m selling handmade fretboards necklaces and keychains.  They are made by me in my garage. They come in various sizes (ranging from 1″ to 3″) and the majority of them are dark brown (although I did make a few maple ones).  Send an email to me to order and let me know if you want small, medium, large, or random size.  PayPal is the preferred method of payment.

Crutch Guitar

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: $$

Sometimes it is really fun to gather up some wood and miscellaneous parts and throw a silly instrument together.  That’s what I did with this build.  I found a thrift store crutch and slapped a fretboard, bridge, a pickup on it.

Here’s the completed guitar.

I used a Stratocopy bridge, pickup, and volume knob.

The headstock was made some classical guitar tuners, some 1/2″ oak and some nylon spacers.

I didn’t even bother to cover up the underside.  I grounded the bridge by running a wire from a bridge screw to the back of the potentiometer.


See this beast in action!  And see me [fake] breaking my leg.

Handmade Travel Guitar

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$$

This is not an easy project, but it is simpler than doing a full size normally shaped guitar.  This is a short scale guitar with a body that doesn’t need any bending.  The neck was made with a .75 inch thick board that was stacked at the headstock and cut to make the angle.  While this isn’t a great first project, I have included a fret template and dimensions of the body.  With a little instrument building experience, this is a very doable project.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 8.31.35 PM

If you don’t have a cutaway, the body is an isosceles trapezoid.  The dimensions are in the picture above in inches.

Download the fret template here:

Travel Guitar Fretboard 23.25 inch scale length

(Note: The template has 19 frets, while my instrument has 18 frets.  I normally make my templates with one extra fret and then use the last fret as the end of the fretboard)


If you want to get more complicated, make a cutaway on the guitar.  Even if you don’t, you’ll still need a neck block.  I made my neck block 62 mm thick.  The neck block needs to be thick enough that the fretboard is over the top piece of wood.

Here’s some pictures of the neck block and cutaway, and some other pictures of the project in progress.

The bracing for the top and back is just simple ladder bracing.




The body and neck are finished with Tru-Oil.  The fretboard has fretboard oil.

The overall length of this instrument is 30.5 inches.

I used regular guitar neck ferrules, and some 3 inch screws.  The screws and ferrules are countersunk into the back and neck block.

The top is spruce.  The back, sides and neck are cherry.  The fretboard is walnut.  The side pieces are 3 inches thick.

Just a simple squarish headstock.

I really like the rosewood eagle bridge.  I got it from eBay.  I strung it with “extra light” acoustic guitar strings.


Here’s a video with more info:

Homemade Guitalele

Difficulty: Intermediate

Cost: $$

This was a project that didn’t take a whole lot of time.  Having the neck and body already done really made this project go fast.




The neck was from a cheap kid’s guitar, and the body was from a grizzly kit.


I attached the neck with glue and a dowel.



I got an undrilled ukulele bridge from StewMac.  The fretboard is made of purpleheart.


I strung it up with a light set of classical guitar strings.

See it in action:

Maple Acoustic Guitar

Difficulty: Advanced

Cost: $$$

This is my very first acoustic guitar project.  My brother asked me to build him a small bodied guitar.  I was happy to accept the challenge.  🙂

Here are the specifications:

Neck, back, and sides:  Maple

Top:  Spruce

Fretboard, bridge, and heel cap:  Rosewood

Scale length: 22.75 inches

Nut and Saddle:  Bone

Bridge pins:  Ivoroid

photo 1

I bent the side wood with the same bender used for my Koa Soprano Ukulele.

photo 5

In order to glue on the top and back, I needed some spool clamps.  Following some instructions on the UKEonomics blog, I was able to make some.

photo 4

This is a small bodied guitar, so I was able to get away with basic bracing. I used an “X” brace, two cross braces and a bridge plate.  The sound hole was made with a circle cutter mounted to a drill press.

photo 3

The back is made of two pieces.  Once the bracing and kerf was attached, the back was glued on with the help of the spool clamps.  The overhang on the top and back were removed with a trim router and a flush bit.  (Be careful when using a trim router on a guitar.  Follow the pattern mentioned by Stewart-MacDonald.)

Here are some “glamour” shots of the finished guitar.

Maple Acoustic Guitar(front)

Maple Acoustic Guitar(back)


See it in action!

Satellite Dish Guitar

Difficulty:  Easy

Cost:  $$


The main parts for this instrument (besides the actual satellite dish) were taken from this electric guitar that was purchased at a garage sale.  The neck and tuners were used, along with one of the pickups and one of the potentiometers.

The paint was painted black before it was mounted to the dish. Some wooden blocks served to set the neck at the correct angle.

This guitar used a top-loading hardtail bridge purchased from eBay. The single-coil pickup is connected to a 500K ohm potentiometer. The wiring is just like this diagram.

Watch this video to see it in action!

Vintage Kay Archtop Repair

This guitar belonged to my wife’s late grandfather.  Over the years it had fallen into disrepair. When we received it was missing the strings and bridge, and had a severely damaged nut.  The neck was also extremely loose; so much so that I was able to detach it from the body with minimal effort.

The guitar had no labels indicating the brand inside the body or on the headstock.  After the dust was cleaned off, I noticed some faint glue residue on the headstock in the shape of a stylized “K” as in Kay Guitars.  From my research the guitar is either from the late 1940s or possibly the early 1950s.

The first step was to clean up the guitar.  The outside and inside were dusted and vacuumed.  Some oil and an old toothbrush cleaned up the fretboard.

The beautiful rosewood shined after the residue from years of use was removed. The broken plastic nut was replaced with a bone nut.

The dovetail joint between the neck and the body came apart with minimal effort.  The joint was cleaned and then reglued.

The homemade endpin was replaced with a new snakewood endpin.  We’ll hang onto the old endpin because of the family connection.

A new Tune-o-matic bridge was placed on the soundboard.  Although it isn’t period correct, I wanted the extra adjustments it offered.  Because it isn’t glued on, it would be an easy thing to swap out in future, if desired.

It was equipped with its original Kluson brand tuners.  They were removed, cleaned up, and reinstalled.

This guitar is now playable!  It is very loud and has a great sound.

The bumps and bruises on the finish remain as a testament to the years it has seen. This guitar was well used and well loved.  It can now be enjoyed by current and future generations.